Toys can be a great investment. Playthings can turn base polypropylene, plush and board games into pure gold.
Just think of the famous toys in recent history that have inspired rabid consumerism and generated premium prices: Teletubbies, Pokémon, Tickle Me Elmo, POGS, Tamagotchi, Trivial Pursuit, Furby, Buzz Lightyear and Moshi Monsters all captured the public’s imagination; and that little lot is just for starters.
I remember visiting the US with a team of independent toy retailers who all went armed with rare Beanie Babies that they already had buyers for.
Famously, Ty Beanie Babies had been the toy giveaway with McDonalds Happy Meals and people sought certain items so voraciously that they’d buy their Happy Meal, discard the food and buy another one if they didn’t get the rare toy they wanted.
This soft toy craze came in the 1990s but even today they can command high prices. At the time of writing, the bid for a rare Princess Diana Rose Purple Beanie Baby had reached a staggering £35,000 on eBay. How many soft toys in your shop command a £35,000 price tag?
The recent Hello Kitty fast food promotion that caused such a furore commanded maximum bids of just £2,500. Pah. Small fry.
Of course, there is a well documented trade in die-cast vehicles. Mint condition in its original packaging is a must to command the highest price.
One year, the British Association of Toy Retailers (as the TRA used to be called) was given a unique Morris Minor by Corgi for guests at the Toy of the Year awards. After the awards dinner, the BATR was left with 200 cars and a Belgian visitor to the BATR’s stand at Toy Fair paid £3,000 cash for all of them.
I actually sold mine for £250, allowing me to pay off my pesky Poll Tax bill in one fell swoop.
Sci-fi fans are probably the most avid collectors of toy memorabilia and Star Wars is a concept that has obsessed fans for over 30 years.
Toy industry folklore has it that when they were left with excess product after the third Star Wars movie, Return of the Jedi, thousands of toys were consigned to landfill in Coallville, Leicestershire.
Former Palitoy men like Nick Austin or Roger Dyson will know if there is any truth in this story or whether it’s apocryphal.
But by writing this, I might have let the genie out of the bottle and the nerdy characters from The Big Bang Theory and their ilk might mount a clandestine archaeological dig in Leics to unearth rich toy bounty.
Using the eBay barometer again, a single original Luke Skywalker Farm Boy action figure is currently selling for £979.
So, the scores on the doors are: Corgi Morris Minor £250, Luke Skywalker £979, Hello Kitty £2,500, Beanie Babies £35,000.
What did I tell you? There’s gold in them thar toys.